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Are Lamar Jackson and the Ravens Super Bowl Contenders?

The former NFL MVP has Baltimore sitting atop the AFC North, but does the team have enough to be a true Super Bowl contender? Boardroom explores.

Lamar Jackson bet on himself — and it should pay off in the offseason. But how about this season?

He turned down a $250 million extension ($133 million guaranteed) right before the season began, casting a murky cloud amid another season in which the team could use a little reassurance that he can win games come playoff time, something Jackson and Co. have failed to do while he’s been under center.

One could interpret this move in several ways. Sure, it’s discouraging that a superstar like Jackson might test free agency this offseason. But on the other hand, he’s playing with a chip on his shoulder. HE turned down the money. HE bet on himself. Aaron Judge did it, and he had the best contract year in sports history.

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As it pertains to Lamar, we’re nine games through the season and he’s got the Ravens sitting atop the AFC North at 6-3, winners in three straight games against the Browns, Buccaneers, and Saints.

Individually, Jackson is having a standout season, and the Ravens have obviously benefitted from such on paper, ranking second in rush yards per game (168.1) and fifth in points per game (26.1). But the lingering on-field questions are fair to ask:

Is Lamar’s style of play sustainable to win a Super Bowl?

Sorry Mr. Jackson, but I am for real.

The team averages only 186.8 pass yards per game (26th in the NFL) while Jackson has converted just 62.3% of his passes — 25th among starting quarterbacks. On the flip side, he’s thrown the fourth-most touchdowns in the league (16). He also still remains an obvious problem for defenses due to his electric rushing ability, but in order to make all this sustainable long-term, a steady defense is required.

So, is the defense good enough to lead them to title contention?

So far, no. They’re letting up 350.8 yards per game — 19th in the NFL — 258.8 of which come through the air (28th). For an organization that prides itself on defense, it isn’t bad but also isn’t great. Frankly put, that could be the difference-maker more than solely placing all responsibility on Jackson.

This is where the acquisition of LB Roquan Smith is huge. Baltimore made a huge splash at the deadline and acquired Smith for a second- and fifth-round pick in 2023, plus LB Alvin Klein. Smith, who ranks second in the NFL for tackles with 88, should help Baltimore refine that defensive identity they’ve owned for years.

“It’s going to be scary after I get [the defense] all down pat, so I’m excited. I love the way Mike [Macdonald] calls the game, so I think there’s going to be so many great things in store for us,” said Smith.

The Ravens also got Smith on a bargain, paying him only $575,000 of his $5.4 million contract. However, it’ll likely come at a hefty price this offseason when he’s an unrestricted free agent. By Spotrac’s metrics, Smith’s value in the inside linebacker market falls somewhere around the $80 million range over five years. That would make him the 10th-highest-paid ILB in the league with an average salary of $16 million.

Perspective

The Ravens are the type of team you never know whether you’re underestimating or overestimating. No pun intended, Baltimore is simply a wild card. And in a tough AFC conference headlined by the Chiefs and Bills, it’s hard to say the Ravens have all the pieces to make a deep run at the Lombardi Trophy.

Maybe they’ll help Lamar secure his second career playoff win (and a bag), but I’m not so confident in anything further than that.

Smith on the other hand? He believes they’ll get it done.

Future Odds

All odds courtesy of FanDuel SportsBook as of Nov. 8.

Win AFC North: (-390)
Win Super Bowl: (+1200)
Make Playoffs: Yes (-1400) | No (+900)
Win 12 games: Yes (+100) | No (-120)

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About The Author
Anthony Puccio
Anthony Puccio
Anthony Puccio is a former Staff Writer at Boardroom. Puccio has 10 years of experience in journalism and content creation, previously working for SB Nation, The Associated Press, New York Daily News, SNY, and Front Office Sports. In 2016, he received New York University's CCTOP scholarship and earned a bachelor's degree in Communications from St. John's University. He can be spotted a mile away thanks to his plaid suits and thick New York accent. Don't believe us? Check his Twitter @APooch.